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Sagstrom, Zhang surge clear, dash Korda's record bid

Madelene Sagstrom and Rose Zhang have left world No.1 Nelly Korda and everyone else way behind in the Cognizant Founders Cup.

Trying to win a record sixth straight LPGA Tour event, Korda was 11 shots behind Swedish leader Sagstrom and 10 back of two-time NCAA champion Zhang with a round left at Upper Montclair Country Club in New Jersey.

After months of near-perfect play, Korda inexplicably hit bad drives, found bunkers from the fairway and missed short putts on Saturday.

She shot a one-over 73 to be tied third with Australia's Gabriela Ruffels and South Korean Sei Young Kim, who both surged with 67s.

Ruffels
Gabriela Ruffels charged to share third place with a round to go. (AP PHOTO)

"I think I've played really good golf the past couple months," Korda said. "I'm human, so I'm going to have bad days."

Sagstrom, who has played well on this course the last three years, had a 66 to get to 19-under 197.

Zhang, who won in her professional debut in New Jersey state a year ago, had a 67 after lipping out on a short birdie putt at No. 8.

Unless something unexpected happens, one of that pair will win their second LPGA Tour title.

The 31-year-old Sagstrom has not won since 2020. The Swede had a bogey-free round of six birdies, highlighted by three in row on the last three holes on the front nine.

"I felt like this laser focus all week," Sagstrom said. "I felt super, not super committed to everything, but I felt really in the moment. And that's kind of the game I think I need to play tomorrow."

The 20-year-old Zhang, who won the Mizuho Americas Open in Jersey City last year, had seven birdies and two bogeys.

Australian Steph Kyriacou matched Sagstrom in posting the day's best score of 66 to be tied 10th at five under, while countrywomen Minjee Lee (72) and Hannah Green (72) were a further shot back, Sarah Kemp (74) was at one under and Grace Kim (75) at one over.

The 25-year-old Korda had three birdies and four bogeys, the first coming on the opening hole after finding a bunker from the fairway.

The LPGA Tour record for largest deficit overcome in winning a tournament is 10 shots. It has been done three times with Mickey Wright (1964). Annika Sorenstam (2001) and Louise Friberg (2008 ).

Korda came into the tournament having taken two weeks off after winning the Chevron Championship.

It was her fifth straight title and tied her with Hall of Famers Sorenstam (2004-05) and Nancy Lopez (1978) for the tour's longest winning streak.